Deuteronomy 5:1 – 6:25; Luke 7:11-35; Psalm 68:19-35; Proverbs 11:29-31
In today’s OT reading Moses is reviewing the Ten Commandments for the nation Israel. The book of Deuteronomy is Moses’ farewell speech to his people—all the things he wants them to know and to remember so they can faithfully follow their God. I remember teaching through this book with our women at Ev Free Fullerton and understanding one of the foci of Deuteronomy is the simple word ‘obedience.’ Moses is imploring his people to obey their God.
The sixth commandment is “honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Deut. 5:16). The NT reading today seems to comment on that commandment. Except that, well, the son can’t honor his mother because he has died. He was an only son and in that time, around 30 A.D., and in that economy this meant he had been the sole financial support of his mother because she was a widow. Now that her son has died she is apparently destitute. And it is just about then that the large funeral procession encounters Jesus. Luke 5:13 says, “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, 'Don’t cry.'”
I love every word of that sentence. The Lord Jesus saw her—he saw her misery and her sorrow and he understood her enormous loss. And his heart went out to her—so much tenderness and concern in those words. And he said, “Don’t cry.” Again, compassion and kindness in his words; he identifies with her loss.
Isn’t that comforting to you? It is to me. Jesus saw one of the most un-seeable people in the Bible—a widow. Widows ranked low among the low; they had no status or worth in their culture. So it says to me, that if Jesus saw her, He sees me, too. And He cares about my sorrows and my loss. And His heart goes out to me, not when I feel sorry for myself, but in times of genuine loss and pain—when my parents died, when my sister-in-law died, when my brother died, and when I see my children facing heartbreak. He offers me comfort.
And He sees you. And He offers you comfort, too.
But Jesus doesn’t stop with words of comfort and kindness for this dear widow. He touches the coffin and resurrects the dead man. “The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother” (Lk. 7:15). And the people rightly understand what Jesus has done, “God has come to help his people” (vs. 16b).
And now the young man can do what the sixth commandment says: he can honor (this word means to financially care for one's parents, especially in their old age) his widowed mother. We can only imagine the joy they experience.
This is our God, my friends—caring, loving, saving. “Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death” (Ps. 68:2).
- Nell Sunukjian
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